Plant-based diets emphasize eating minimally processed foods that come mostly from plants, along with modest amounts of fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy, and red meat only sparingly. It’s easy to see that a plant-based diet is good for the heart, weight control and maintaining overall health, as well as for the environment.
We talked a lot about the benefits of plant-based eating at the 2015 Shopping for Health Conference, with a fascinating presentation by Wendy Bazilian, DrPh, MA, RD, on behalf of the California Walnut Commission. The good news is that you can focus on adding to the diet, rather than subtracting. “Plant-based diet” means eating more plant-based foods, and usually does not require a complete diet overhaul.
Here are some of Dr. Bazilian’s tips on guiding your shoppers towards plant-based eating:
- Start meals with a soup or salad.
- Feature a fruit bowl or fruit plate.
- Don’t confuse this term with Plant-based eating is inclusive and allows for meats.
- Make a vegetable crudité to nibble on while preparing dinner.
- Broaden your cooking with beans.
- Eat nuts like walnuts every day, as a snack.
- Explore new herbs and spices, both fresh and dried.
- When cooking vegetables, think roast, bake, broil or grill. If sautéing stove top, use just a little bit of olive oil.
Ready to give it a try? Here is a recipe for Walnut Bean Burgers from the California Walnut Commission. The burgers can be made up to several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until just before cooking. Uncooked burgers can be individually wrapped and frozen. Defrost before cooking.
¾ cup uncooked brown or green lentils
1 ½ cups water
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for frying the burgers, as needed)
1 cup finely minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dry mustard
10 mushrooms, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound baby spinach, finely minced (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely minced California walnuts
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
Grated Cheddar for melting on top (optional)
Place lentils and water in a medium-small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the water is completely absorbed. (Don’t worry about overcooking the lentils. Soft is good in this recipe, and we want all the water gone.) Transfer to a medium-large bowl, add vinegar and mash with a fork or a potato masher. Set aside.
Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil; swirl to coat pan. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add all remaining ingredients except walnuts and bread crumbs. Sauté over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Stir sautéed mixture into lentils along with walnuts and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly and cover. Chill at least one hour.
Form mixture into 4-inch patties about 1 1/2 inches thick. In hot oiled skillet, fry until heated through, turning once, or broil 5 to 8 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Top with grated cheese, if desired.